God is great. God is mighty. God is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. He is the Creator and Ruler of all. Naturally for anyone who believes, it is easy to proclaim that God is all of these things, and just as naturally we want to give Him all honor and praise which is rightfully His. The question then must be asked, how exactly do we honor God? What is the measuring line by which an offering is measured? By what standards do we judge what is offered to Almighty God?
I have found in my time that many people who like to tout the perfect holiness and awesomeness of God, really don’t give much thought to what they offer Him. It’s an amazing double-standard that a perfect holy God seems to have no trouble accepting flawed offerings. They say “Oh well, just do your best, that’s all God requires.” Really?? Is that what the Bible truly says? In reality my friends, (and if you have glanced up at the title), there is only one truly acceptable offering to God – only one which meets His perfect standard; Jesus. This is what we will be studying today.
As a messenger of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I have been accused on more than one occasion of making light of the holiness of God. I have been told that I have ignored His perfect standard and His intolerance for sin. However, quite the opposite, I actually have a fantastic regard for God’s holiness, His perfect standard and His intolerance for sin. I applaud those characteristics of God. It is precisely those characteristics of God, that I know that the offerings I would try to offer, would never be good enough. Take for example our first scripture today, Malachi 1:6-8:
“A son honors his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is my honor? and if I be a master, where is my fear? said the LORD of hosts to you, O priests, that despise my name. And you say, Wherein have we despised your name?
You offer polluted bread on my altar; and you say, Wherein have we polluted you? In that you say, The table of the LORD is contemptible.
And if you offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if you offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now to your governor; will he be pleased with you, or accept your person? said the LORD of hosts.”
These scriptures describe the very perfection of God and the perfect requirements that offerings are to meet. These priests whom God was addressing under the Old Covenant here, had become complacent in their offerings. They had offered imperfect offerings to God – and He wasn’t happy about it. He counted it as “despising His Name.” It did not give Him any honor. And even though this was the Old Covenant for them, we see some striking similarities with the way many believers react under the New Covenant today. Let’s examine the details of our text here.
We see in verse 7, that they were offering polluted bread on God’s altar. Blemished offerings, it can also be rendered as “defiled food”. This is not speaking of the showbread here, because that was always displayed on a separate table and never on the altar being described here in these verses. (Leviticus 24:6) – and although the altar here is also referred to as a kind of table; the table of showbread is never referred to as an altar, so they simply cannot be one and the same.
We can also see in verse 8, that they were sacrificing, blind, lame and sick animals. Which was in direct violation of the many Leviticus laws concerning such sacrifices. An animal for sacrifice was always to be the best of the flock or herd, always without blemish, never sick or lame. (Leviticus 22:21-22)
So this is what they were doing under their covenant, and God was obviously displeased. Now you might be thinking “I would never do that to God!” – Yet, do you understand that God does not change. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. His standards have not diminished, not even in the smallest degree. This is precisely why, we need to understand what an acceptable sacrifice is to God… and the requirements of perfection have not changed.
Just what kind of offering is God looking for? Is it a bull or a goat? Maybe a dove or a ram? Well let’s take a look at Hebrews 10:8:
“Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin you would not, neither had pleasure therein; which are offered by the law;”
Although there sacrifices were for a time, required under the Old Covenant Mosaic Law, God really took no pleasure in them… they were mere shadows of the real substance… and to know what that substance is – the real sacrifice which God would accept and be pleased with, look at the next verses 9 and 10:
“Then said he, See, I come to do your will, O God. He takes away the first, that he may establish the second.
By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
The will of God, was to take away the old covenant, to establish the new covenant. To take away the old laws and sacrifices which could never remove sins (look at verses 1 through 4 if you don’t believe me about that) and to offer His one and only Son Jesus as an eternal spotless, unblemished sacrifice for all time which can and indeed did take away the sins for the entire believing world. This is the New Covenant of Grace in Christ Jesus. This is the Good News, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is so-named because it is all about Him and His finished work; His sacrifice for you.
Now there are those, who believe that good works must be added to the work of Christ. There are those who believe that you can be “cut-off” and lose your salvation unless you work to prove that you truly love God. However, we must again remember that the priests in the Old Covenant that Malachi was addressing, were bringing blemished and defiled sacrifices to God, and He was displeased, and the same thing displeases Him today as well.
Do you think your works, self-effort, strength or determination please God? Many people do. They think that God is willing to accept less than perfection if He sees them “trying their best.” If that were true, we wouldn’t need Jesus because we would only need to try our best at keeping the Law of Moses. After all, God would understand, right? Galatians 5:3 and James 2:10 make it clear that anyone who is under the Old Covenant law is required to keep the entire law. The perfect Law and standard of God requires perfect performance.
Still, do you think God is pleased by your works and efforts, even if they aren’t perfect? Here are some scripture references:
– In Genesis 4, Cain and Abel both brought offerings to God. Cain brought the fruit of the ground, the works of his hands. Abel brought the blood of the firstborn lamb. Cain was rejected, Abel was accepted.
– In Jeremiah 17:5, it states plainly that anyone who trusts in his own strength and effort is cursed.
Jesus Himself said in Matthew 19:24 that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. And a lot of misguided messages have been taught on that one verse in isolation, and used to vilify rich people who have money. But wealth is not evil; if it were so, God would be the most evil of all, because He is the wealthiest of all – in-fact He owns everything!
Instead as we look at that example in context, what does the rich man represent. He came to Jesus, boasting in his own accomplishments, his own law-keeping, his own fleshly effort and strength (verses 16 to 20)… so Jesus, being the Master Teacher, brought the man to the end of his own strength (verses 21 and 22). Afterward, in verse 25, the disciples marveled and said “who then can be saved?” to which Jesus replied in verse 26, with men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. Referring to Himself and His perfect sacrifice by which all men could be saved.
Just like the priests in Malachi’s day, the rich man was trying to offer the polluted bread of his own works and effort – when Jesus is the only true Bread of Life (John 6:35). And many people today are still trying to do the same thing, not realizing that they are too lame to reach God on their own, they are too blind to see the truth.
Our last scripture today is going to be Psalms 147:10-11:
“He delights not in the strength of the horse: he takes not pleasure in the legs of a man.
The LORD takes pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.”
God does not take pleasure in physical strength or the efforts of man. But He does take pleasure in those who truly reverence Him, by recognizing that He is perfectly righteous, He is perfectly Holy, and the only way to satisfy Him completely is to confidently trust in His mercy – Jesus Christ, and His completed work for you.
Jesus is the one eternal sacrifice that pleases the Father (Matthew 17:4). You are in Him, and He is everything you need (1st Corinthians 1:30). Rest in that truth. Jesus is the perfect sacrifice for you.